The Cycle Marathon Tannheimer Tal 2017 lies behind us and though we have not been active participants the whole week was fun.
I say the whole week because we have been their earlier for the preparations and for the racing bike week. The Cycle Marathon on Sundays is the highlight of the events.
The Racing Bike Week
It all starts on Monday afternoon with the first rides out. Those are meant for getting to know the different s and check out your performance „Will I manage?“. To benefit all there are up to five different rides out with different levels of difficulty. Those range from easy trips affectionately called „Cappuccino Round“ up to challenging pass tours. The Cappuccino round ist according to Marcel Wüst „for all those that regard a bicycle as a means of transport instead of a sports equipment“. Those trips are lead by well known and famous race bikers like the above mentioned Marcel Wüst or Gerrit Glomser or dedicated cyclists that know the routes by heart.
The fulll range of these trips show quite well the spirit of this event. It is mostly about fun about being part of it but it is not about racing or ambitious goals. Therefore a stop for drinks and snacks is always part of those trips. Talking to each other and having fun while cycling is the first priority. If you ever have been part of such a tour you will know what I mean. People are laughing, are making jokes and are chatting while pedaling. And the routes through the Tannheimer Tal and the Allgäu are stunning. Whenever possible the bikers use the bike lanes so that they are able to enjoy the beautiful nature and so that they can bike in groups.
Everyday there are several tours. Always at ten in the morning. Weather permitting. In case it rains at that time there will be a second try at two o’clock in the afternoon. So you can get ready for Sunday.
On Friday there has been an additional technique workshop with Marcel Wüst which has been interesting just by watching. It is always amazing how many tipps you can get from professionals. And even if it is just one single tipp you take along. It might be the one thing you needed to drive more easily or more pleasant or just more smoothly. Maybe you can loose your fear of certain situations and increase your driving pleasure.
On Saturday the last tours take place called „rolling in“. Some parts of the original routes are taken to get to know them. As there are some challenging parts with steep descents or intensely ascending slopes. Some bikers change their choice of route afterwards. But this is good. Because every ones wants to reach safely and in good spirit the finish line. False ambitions are out of place here. Some even change their mind while on route by driving left or right at the turnoff between the 85 km or 130 km route. The Lech bridge seems to be a special trail marker and for one or the other even a nail biter „Shall I or shall I not?“.
While the bikers are preparing for the highlight on Sunday by bike or workshop around 300 people are busy working to enable the Cycle Marathon. The organizing team is very busy. Until the very end registrations are arriving. Starting numbers have to be prepared. Applications have to be handled. The route has to be checked several times. Contact to police and maintenance area is close during this week: „What about this traffic light? Where will car traffic be stopped?“.
Sponsors have to be found and taken care of. Starter packs have to be prepared. The floor in the tennis hall needs protection against street shoes and cycling shoes. The racing office has to be installed. Speakers have to be arranged. The stage has to be erected and needs a carpet. The winners’ podium has to be ready. Catering is needed. And for the pasta party huge amounts of noodles have to be cooked. There are workers everywhere. Everyone is busy. All in T-shirts in bright colours working in the name of the Cycle Marathon. And again and again there are questions and challenges. Smaller ones and bigger ones. „Where does this go? When will the beer tables be delivered?“. Telephones are ringing. Information is given all the time and questions are answered.
Also here the mood is good. People are working well together. Jokes are told and everyone is eager to answer questions if possible. And so the tennis hall turns into a cycling centre and the cafe becomes a race office. In the evening the sign posts are distributed. There are not only directories but also warning signs. One teams finishes work around midnight and the next team starts at two o’clock in the morning. Everything for the participants.
Outside protective gratings are mounted. On the meadow bike racks appear. And a start and finish gate is raised. Music arrives and plays loud while the car for the time measurements is put in place. Bikers get their starting numbers, chat along and loads of boxes are delivered. Food, documents, office material, t-shirts, trophies, vouchers, cutlery (no plastic by the way!), rubbish bags, cake, posters, a video wall, cables, barrier tape, drinks and much more.
Sunday – the cycle marathon
On Sunday morning the whole start-finish area is humming like a beehive. Those go still for their starting number. Others use the offer to have breakfast. And the other ones are already standing in front of the starting line. You can feel the excitement everywhere. Everybody is nervous. Some fear for their starting position. Others keep a spot free for their friends that are coming late. The one or other bike is lifted over the heads of those already waiting. Sometimes the bike is pointing in the wrong direction and has to be turned again. Others ask themselves whether they will cope or whether they have chosen the right route and if everything will work out. Others think about wearing a rain jacket or leaving it in the back pack. GPS trackers are set and they twitch at their starting number until the very last minute.
And then they are off on the route. The bikers get moving. The biking shoes klick, when they latch into the pedals. In front there are support vehicle with blinking lights and a camera car. It lasts several minutes until everyone is on the route.
On Sunday there have been three starts. At six o’clock the biggest group started for the 220 km round. One hour later the bikers for the 85 km and 130 km route started off. And for the first time ever at the Cycle Marathon Tannheimer Tal there has been a start from tricycles. The two participants were allowed to start 15 minutes earlier to make sure that there would be no problems in the crowded start area. How nice, that such a thing was possible here. Each start has been celebrated accordingly by the present audience.
Along the route
Along the route assistants, security guards and policemen are standing. Provision stations are set up. They spread butter and chocolate cream on bread, but fruits and mix isotonic drinks. There is even magnesium in case the muscles cramp.
The mood among the bikers is good. They even talk today. They coordinate with each other. Who leads? Who takes the first position? Where do we go? They smile or wave for the photographers along the route. Some drivers are lonesome and all alone on the way others go in pairs, groups or teams. Some wear jerseys in their club colours. Other have been creative for the marathon and wear something special.
At the provision station they let their bikes fall to the ground. Women are searching for the toilets. Men use the meadow. They talk shop. They coordinate. Who drives on with whom? Shall I shorten the route or do I dare to go the long way? But also here the mood is good.
At the same time people are already waiting for the first bikers. And then the first one rolls over the finishing line. Also here some drive together through the gate. They are holding hands or go as a team. It is all about being a part of it. Many praise their group „Without you I would not have managed!“. They draw each other along, motivate each other or even push somebody uphill. Every finishing line crossing is emotional. From „finally there“ to fully in tears up to loud shouting everything can be seen.
The last participant drives six minutes before the official end of time measuring quickly over the finishing line and gets cheered at. The Chinese participant shouts something very loud into his smart phone. Emotions are high. They talk about parts of the route. They drink beer. There are queues at the pasta station.
And you can hear everywhere: „Next year I will be here again.“. „I have already booked an accommodation.“ „But next time I will do the 130 km.“
And somehow I am now in the mood for cycling myself …
All Photos © DieMeurers